From the Orchestra Library

More about Library Peeps

Posted in DSO Colleagues by kschnack on October 23, 2009

I think this is a great day to tell you about Shannon Highland, a wonderful musician, friend, colleague, and fellow librarian.  You saw Shannon earlier in the summer stuffing folders for a 25-piece July 4th concert:

Shannon Highland stuffing July 4 program

Shannon’s main day gig (and, of course, night gig too), is Librarian of The Dallas Opera.  Go to this page and float your mouse over her name for a lovely formal photo:  Tonight is the opera’s opening for its 2009-10 regular season with a production of Othello, having moved to the new Winspear Opera House.  Between the start of a regular season of productions and preparing two high intensity gala programs with selections from numerous operas and musicals, she has had her hands full with the needs of the orchestra next door.  Before the rehearsals went into the new house, the opera orchestra came over to the Meyerson one afternoon, so Shannon took the opportunity to stuff the Broadway gala music.  Which, oddly-enough, looked exactly like the photo above.  We helped her so the process would go much faster and be less painful for all concerned.

Here is Shannon earlier in the year before the orchestra’s first hard-hat tour of the Winspear (that’s the lobby of the Meyerson):

Shannon ready for tour of new Winspear Opera House

Shannon ready for tour of new Winspear Opera House

This is Shannon’s third season as the opera’s librarian; she is also a fine bassoonist and often plays in the opera, as well as in many other ensembles around the DFW area.  In the summers, we are thrilled to have her work with us in the DSO library.  Since the opera season is only 17 weeks in the fall, winter and spring, this is a win-win for everyone.  We are especially shorthanded late May through mid-August, and that is when she is free to work with us.  Thank heavens she is also willing!

We first met Shannon quite a few years ago when the DSO’s former Director of Education, LeAnn Binford, and I were looking for a summer intern to share between our departments.  We headed to an arts district jobs fair for high school AP students in Dallas who would be sponsored by a foundation and matched with one of the area’s many non-profit arts organizations for an internship.  This was set up similar to “speed dating” except it was “speed interviewing” and everyone was trying to meet all the available students.  Shannon was the top student there, and pretty much all of the arts groups wanted her as their first choice.  As did we.

So we just flexed a little muscle as the largest arts group in the area, and had our pick.  Lucky us!

Shannon worked her first summer for both departments, and impressed everyone.  Smart, quick and accurate with details, she exhibited a conscientiousness, work ethic, and aptitude for orchestra library tasks that led to her return the next summer exclusively as a paid library assistant.  We couldn’t have been happier that the arrangement continued during summers throughout her college years at the University of North Texas, until she took off for grad school at USC.  We had to say good bye and good luck, not thinking we’d get to work with her again in the library world after she left.

A few years later, all grown up and with her Masters in Music (Bassoon Performance), Shannon decided to take the interview for the library position at TDO.  We were surprised and pleased about that, and so excited when she won the job.  We love having her back full-time in Dallas, especially as one of our city’s small, merry band of orchestra librarians.  You get to know the essence of a person’s character doing this work together, and Ms. Highland is a stellar human being, a delight to spend time with, and funny as all get-out.  The Dallas Opera is very lucky to have her, both as the librarian and as a bassoonist, and she is doing excellent work over there on both counts.  She has professionalized the position in a way that had not been accomplished before, and we are so very proud of her!


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